Rio Ferdinand has today announced his retirement from football.
Manchester United paid around £30 million for Ferdinand in 2002, a fee which in hindsight was absolutely irrelevant as he became one of the best defenders that United have ever seen.
Rio Ferdinand played over 450 games for United, and quite literally won everything there is to win with the club. His 13 year spell at Manchester United saw him pick up six Premier League titles, one FA Cup, one Champions League and three League Cup winners medals.
For me, Rio Ferdinand will forever go down as one of the best defenders I have ever watched. I feel absolutely privileged to have watched such a legend play, it really is a shame that his glittering career has to come to an end. Along with Nemanja Vidic, Rio is included in my all-time XI made up of players I have seen at United in my lifetime. It really will take some doing to move him off it.
Speaking on BT Sport Ferdinand said: “After 18 years as a professional footballer, I now feel it’s the right time for me to retire from the game that I love.
“As a 12-year-old boy, kicking around a football on the Friary Estate in Peckham, I never dreamt that I would play for my boyhood club West Ham, captain Leeds United, win the Champions League with Manchester United, or re-join my first manager Harry Redknapp at Queens Park Rangers.
“I will always regard the 81 times that I played for England, with immense pride. These are all treasured memories that will last a lifetime.
“Starting a career, every young man needs mentors. I found mine in Dave Goodwin, the district manager at Blackheath, and Tony Carr, the youth team manager at West Ham. They installed in me personality traits that lasted throughout my career. I will always be grateful to them.
“I’d like to thank Chris Ramsey, Harry Redknapp, David O’Leary and David Moyes who managed me at various times in my career, all the backroom staff who looked after me over the years, and the players that I played with. I would also like to thank the team who managed me off the pitch, Jamie Moralee and everybody at New Era.
“Winning trophies over my 13 years at Manchester United allowed me to achieve everything that I desired in football. From a young child to today, that was all I cared about.
“None of that would have been possible, without the genius of one man, Sir Alex Ferguson. His greatest accomplishment in my eyes will always be how he developed us as men, not just as footballers. He will in my opinion, always be the greatest manager in British football history.
“I’d also like to thank and pay tribute to my wife Rebecca and my family, including my mother and father, for their sacrifices, their encouragement and their advice throughout my career.
“And finally, I’d like to thank all the fans from all the clubs – for without them professional football would not exist. I will miss each and every one of you on my Saturday afternoons.”
Once again, I must give a big thank you to Rio Ferdinand. He has been a great figure in world football, and has produced so many unforgettable memories for both myself, and millions of others.
All the best, Rio!